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Ertegun House

Contemporary History in the Ancient World

In the introduction to his Jewish War, Josephus contends that the historian of recent events is far superior to those who merely rehash ancient history. He argues that personal involvement in momentous events leads to greater lucidity of narrative, and more importantly, it is impossible for a historian to lie when the audience already knows the facts.

Ironically, Josephus’ personal involvement in the Jewish War has encouraged his interpreters to mistrust his writing. Yet it is worth interrogating these issues more broadly: who wrote contemporary history, and why? How did such writers explain their relationship with their material? Did their original audience already know the “facts”? Why and how do ancient authors indicate their presence as actors within the historical narrative? And has this changed – do contemporary authors of contemporary history approach their task differently?

This colloquium will ask and hopefully answer some of these questions about authors ranging from Xenophon to Gregory of Nazianzus, and will include a keynote address by John Marincola.  Details of the programme are available here.

A poster including details of the speakers and their presentations is available to download here.

The registration charge is £5 for students and £10 for non-students. Lunch and coffee will be provided, and attendees are invited to join the speakers for dinner after the colloquium for a charge of £20 (including wine or soft drinks).

Please register here.

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